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Steve Bullock for President?


It’s the question on everyone’s lips. Will Montana Governor Steve Bullock run for President in 2020?

I’ve worked on three presidential campaigns and in my experience it definitely looks like Steve Bullock is taking the initial steps that a potential candidate takes to position themselves for the nomination.

Here’s the evidence:

  1. He’s started a national PAC(Big Sky Values PAC) and raised around half a million dollars and is touring the country visiting important states that are necessary to win a Democratic nomination.
  2. Governor Bullock spoke at a Center for American Progress(CAP) event in 2017. CAP is a leading organization involved in presidential candidate preparation and vetting.
  3. One of the most telling facts is that Governor Bullock spoke at a very exclusive event held by one of Hillary Clinton’s most controversial advisors. When reached out to for comment a spokesperson for the Governor said Steve Bullock is “interested in being a part of the conversation about the future of the country and the future of the Democratic Party.”
  4. As well as this quote from Governor Bullock to the New York Times:

“I believe the time is right to lend my voice, the voice of someone that after getting elected has been able to govern in what’s viewed as a red state. Some of the things that I’ve been able to do in Montana can also translate beyond just the state’s border.”

Any of these things by themselves could be dismissed, but combine the four pieces of evidence and the only conclusion is that Steve Bullock is considering running and talking to people who are preparing him for a run.

I’m one of the few people who can say they’ve supported Steve Bullock since he ran in the Democratic primary for Attorney General. Those of us who supported him then built an argument that he was the best candidate suited to represent progressives in the long run.  He had already proven himself in 2006 by running the “Raise the Wage” campaign that successfully raised the minimum wage in Montana and tied wage increases to inflation so that currently Montana still has a higher minimum wage than the national minimum wage.

Bullock was predicted to come in third in that attorney general primary, third out of three candidates. 2008 was a great year for progressives though and Steve Bullock beat the odds and won the primary carrying the banner of progressives and was swept into office in the fall by the Democratic wave. While Attorney General, Steve Bullock was the national leader in fighting the destructive Citizens United ruling taking a case all the way to the United States Supreme Court and defending Montana’s century-old campaign finance law, the Corrupt Practices Act.

It was after four successful years as attorney general that he was elected governor based on the leadership he showed in his fight against dark money. During the 2015 legislative session, Governor Bullock continued to fight dark money, working across the aisle to pass the DISCLOSE Act. This bipartisan legislation was quite the feat and it was even sponsored by Republican legislator Frank Garner who had himself been the target of dark money.

But it was passing Medicaid Expansion during that 2015 legislative session that was the crowning achievement of Steve Bullock’s political career. The battle to pass it seemed impossible and to most prognosticators was a fool’s errand. He worked tirelessly with a coalition of experts, organizers, and legislators from both sides of the aisle. Experts including Kim Abbott and Tara Veazey and legislators like Democrat Pat Noonan from Butte and Republican Rob Cook from Conrad. Medicaid Expansion was passed though and Steve Bullock accomplished what was thought to be impossible.

The success of Medicaid Expansion in Montana has surpassed even the highest of expectations as now over 90,000 more Montanans have healthcare because Steve Bullock is Governor of Montana and was able to show the leadership to usher it through and sign it when placed on his desk.

Governor Bullock’s mettle was tested in battles throughout 2017 and at the end of the year compromises had been made that saved Montanans from even deeper cuts. While there are some who would say that Governor Bullock should not have made the decisions that he did one must remember that the legislative Republicans of 2017 were emboldened by the victory of Donald Trump as President and wanted to punish Steve Bullock and Montanans for passing Medicaid Expansion.

The work Steve Bullock did at the legislative session and special session in 2017 saved Montana from a much worse future. He was willing to make the hard choices and bring Republicans to the table and draw concessions from them while also being very careful to craft the best solutions possible with these bad faith actors. This was also in Montana’s most expensive forest fire season ever. The state budget was crunched and Republicans were unable to care at all, but Steve Bullock cared enough to bring them to the table and find solutions.

Having determined that it is most likely that Steve Bullock will be entering into the race for the Democratic president nomination, the more important question then is, can he win?

Well, 2018 is off to a good start for Governor Bullock as he has led the way in saving net neutrality in Montana and he has inspired Governors in other states to follow suit. That’s a good start, but if he wants to be president he must start leading more than Montana. It’s time for Governor Bullock to go to the national stage.

Personal political victories with good press ring hollow in a country that is swiftly seeing it’s democratic institutions fall by the wayside. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis and we need a leader.

If Steve Bullock decides to stand up to President Trump and establishes himself as a true leader, in word as well as in deed, then and only then will he be a contender for the Democratic nomination. Those of us who oppose President Trump currently have no leader.

Chuck Schumer is rudderless and incapable of creating winning narratives. Nancy Pelosi lost any moral high ground she may have had when she voted to give Trump expanded unconstitutional surveillance powers. Governor Bullock occupies a unique space in that he isn’t just another left coast liberal elected official. His voice will carry further and with more authority than a safe seat senator.

Governor Bullock has been an effective leader for Montana his whole career. We all know that Steve Bullock can get progressive policy passed whether that be through the initiative process when he passed the minimum wage increase or in the legislative branch where he was able to pass Medicaid Expansion and the DISCLOSE Act.

For Steve Bullock to be a viable candidate for president though he needs to embrace more than his role as Montana Governor. Leadership at the national level is immensely hard, political opportunism is expected, not hard work. He can’t be afraid of mean tweets by Donald Trump. He can’t be afraid of a negative blip on Breitbart. He can’t wait for some consultant to tell him every move to make, he must take up the leadership role and embrace it or 2020 will look a lot like 2016 with the same old faces and same old fights.

Steve Bullock must step up his role as a vocal leader for the sane and rational Americans who are having trouble sleeping at night. Bullock must stand in front of tough issues and call out the hypocrisy of the Republican party. This means standing up to Paul Ryan when he says we should thank him for a $1.50 tax cut. This means he must stand up to Donald Trump as he embraces the role of dictator in training with authoritarian policies and frightening actions. Such as:

Dictators throw military parades. Dictators like Kim-Jung Un and Vladimir Putin.

Not standing up forcefully to Donald Trump has been the biggest failing of elected Democratic officials in 2017. We cannot make this mistake in 2018 and if Steve Bullock wants to be President he must embrace this role.

If Helena, Montana born and raised Steve Bullock steps up in 2018 and stands up to President Trump and Government Shutdown specialist Mitch McConnell, he will gladly have the support of the whole state of Montana, he’ll easily gain the support of the West and be on his way to a battle for the future of our nation in 2020.

I strongly hope that Governor Steve Bullock steps up when called again, as he has countless times in the past.


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Nathan Kosted

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